Tag Archives: Africa

Artists and activists deserve payment for their work.

30 Jul

It is time for us to speak up about unpaid labour in the arts and activism.

My career in media started over 25 years ago and 20 years working in the activism space. I started as a TV presenter and actor, and we believed that we needed to work on many projects for free as it was vital for our brand. PR and marketing people would always push the notion that they had invited VIP’s and high profile people, and our presence could lead to other work and projects. I believed this for many years until I started to see that I undervalued myself and my time. What I found interesting is how angry people suddenly got when I began to set boundaries, adding terms and conditions to my contacts, asking about the usage, coverage and stopping further exploitation.

Working in the activism space is a different journey. I embarked on activism as it has always been a calling. It was a calling that I knew would help with my healing and possibly help others. I needed to understand my confusion after abuse and see how we could change that narrative. In 2003, I completed my primary training through an intensive training course with a local NGO.
I was trained and, work in counselling, court preparations with victims/survivors, accompanying people to court and police stations and creating awareness. These jobs and activities I do on my account. I am now a registered counsellor and life coach and have opened a practice to combine this work, offering pro bono counselling sessions to those that cannot afford it.

Like my media work, I am invited into spaces to share my intellectual property, experiences, challenges and fears. This work extends into speaking engagements and facilitating work, and clients expect us to work for free under the banner of women empowerment or giving back. Some clients believe that as we are activists, we must do additional work for free. These attitudes and narratives need to change. I often laugh at how this term, ‘women empowerment or ‘giving back, is thrown around, yet many want to put restrictions and demands on us. How is that empowering? We have the right to give back in our way, and nobody has the right to make demands on how we do so.
I have written on the topic many times and spoken on my podcast platforms. My famous line to clients who say that I should do it as a way of giving back and a form of women empowerment- you cannot empower women by disempowering another woman.

My sister/comrade/client Dr Bev Ditsie said in a recent interview that during Women’s months, many women in the entertainment industry don’t work as events are handed to men under the facade that they are giving women a rest. The irony is that many of us in entertainment have suffered financially. Many of us deal with sexism, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia daily. There are still unequal pay structures in the workplace which is disempowering. So the question is, how can we rest with so much emotional and additional trauma?

Over the years, I have worked with international human rights bodies, and several of these bodies understand the need for remunerations. Several institutions do not have huge budgets but will offer an honorarium as a thank you and validation that they see us and respect our agency and time.
It is disappointing when other agencies state that they do not have a budget for speakers, facilitators or thought leaders. The same spaces have a budget for international consultants and firms but cannot respect an activist or artist.
An activist is a person who is an expert in their field and provides another form of consultancy, whilst an artist contributes a service.
I have argued this with many of these agencies. If their policies stated that they do not pay artists, it is hypocritical since they run campaigns, programs that speak to women in the unpaid labour in other sectors.
We cannot apply a rule to one sector of the population and ignore others. The reality is that the organisers and some representatives have primary jobs where they receive salaries. Speaking, facilitating and activism is the only job for many. Activists do a lot of groundwork for free, often ostracised, their safety at stake, should not be expected to do additional work in corporate and global spaces. When launching these campaigns and platforms, it is at events, panels that require speakers and entertainers. I get it, as including a global brand onto your resume adds value but is that fake accolade enough when you are hungry.

In 2019, I engaged with one of these agencies, who tried to make me work for free on a project. The work required many hours of my time, research, intellectual property and then facilitating a discussion. The representative said I should do the gig to prove myself? I reminded him of my many years of experience and asked why I should prove myself. I used their previous event as a reference where they hired a man with less experience than myself and paid him his rate. Was he asked to prove himself?

Covid-19 has disrupted the whole world and further inconvenienced womxn and the LGBTQI+ community. We have all had to change our way of working, thinking and operating. It is time for human rights bodies, productions and broadcasters to discard their old way of thinking. We are in a crisis. Creating gender equality includes acknowledging and seeing everyone. Forcing unpaid labour is another form of slavery.

The Dear Upright African Movement.

15 May


One of my passions in life are arts and how we can promote our beautiful continent. I started my Pan African agency, http://www.wakaagency.biz so to bridge the gap between like-minded artisans, activist, and creators. Along my journey, I have worked and still work with phenomenal individuals​s, who live their lives in changing our narrative with regard to how we see ourselves​ as Africans​, how we promote ourselves and what history needs to to be corrected.
Donald Molosi is one game changer. He is a classically-trained actor and award-winning playwright. He holds an MA in Performance Studies from UCSB, a Graduate Diploma in Classical Acting from LAMDA, and a BA in Political Science and Theatre from Williams College. Molosi is featured in A United Kingdom, opposite Golden Globe and Emmy award nominee David Oyelowo and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike. The film depicts the marriage of Prince Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams in the 1940s and the uniting of the people of Botswana. Molosi divides his time between Botswana and the rest of Africa. His second book, We Are All Blue has been named one of 2016’s most prominent African Books by several literary journals including Writivism.
In 2017, he wrote a thought-provoking​ essay, which received​ great reviews globally. It also received​ some criticism​​m from people who refuse to acknowledge the negative effects​ that colonialism had on our cuture, tradition, identity, ​and ultimately how we see ourselves.

The essay:

Dear Upright African,

I am reminded of six years ago. I had just flown into Johannesburg from Kampala. I was in Johannesburg to do a screen test for a TV series about Botswana. Before the screen test was over I had already landed one of the lead roles. Of course, I was elated, mostly because even though I was enjoying an award-winning acting career on-Broadway and off-Broadway in New York City, I still had the firm desire to do something at home. A week later I was in Gaborone, script in hand, and ready to film. Then an email from the series producers popped up on my phone saying that after “much careful thought and consideration” I had been dropped from the production for “not looking African enough.” The news was more infuriating than disappointing. I found myself wishing they had told me that I had been dropped because I had not been a good enough actor during the screen tests, or that I was asking for too much money. But to say that I did not fulfill​l some British self-styled Africanist director’s zoological notion of what an African looks like was to abuse even my ancestors. I tell you, Upright African, you and I must write and perform many-many stories about the Africa we know where my perfect teeth are not remarkable.

Internalized Oppression seeped into our young minds every time our teachers congratulated us for speaking well, “like a proper Brit” and in the same breath ridiculed us for having Afro-textured hair. British merchant John Locke, in 1561 wrote that Africans were “people without heads.” Trust me, Upright African, to pretend that I don’t have a head (even mind) would have been a ​difficult thing for me to do in high school, or in that audition room in Johannesburg. Locke also describes Africans as people with “their mouths and eyes in their breasts.” Now that would be pure comedy if that sort of language and imagery had not animalized and thingified the African so profoundly in the West’s imaginary that it is partly how Europe justified (to herself and the rest of us) her brutal colonisation of a third of the world. Perhaps Locke would be hilarious if, ​in 1829, European taxidermists had not exhumed the body of a Tswana King to exhibit it in the same way as a trophy animal in Spain for the ​amusement of Europeans who had not seen a Black man before. Perhaps asking me to perform a zoological Africanness would not be insolent if Saartjie Baartman had not been trafficked from the Cape into to being a dancing sex-slave for Parisians at Palais Royal and Londoners at Piccadilly Circus simply because of so-called steatopygia, the “condition” of having a big butt, which apparently rendered her more like an animal and therefore inferior to the European.

When I predictably lived in Paris years after high school I almost-instinctively knew how to catch the metro from Villejuif to Centre Pompidou to Porte de Montreuil. I therefore found myself questioning my education almost obsessive-compulsively​: what study of French history and culture (in a Botswana school) had this been that it almost-by-definition had to displace people who look like me and you out of story whilst the bloody Eiffel tower itself was built by enslaved Africans who died in the process and whose bones remain under the magnificent monument? What if in that high school class you and I had learnt not just about the great French singers Patricia Kaas and Edith Piaf but also about their equally great contemporary Josephine Baker and how she wrote a competing narrative with her body, claiming the agency of the black female body on stage, in Paris no less? How different might our consciousness have been at that age as products of “international” schools? Would we have spent so many disorienting years after high school apologizing for (not) being African? What if we had simply learnt about African empires instead of French history? You see, we also belong in history as protagonists and not just as supporting characters. Upright African, we must also make dolls that look like little African girls. Perhaps I digress but you get me.

When the grand story of David Livingstone’s peripatetic exploits across Africa is told in Big-British-Books-On-African-History used in African schools, private or public, it introduces us to his African aides, Susi and Chuma. We are told that Susi and Chuma were loyal servants to David Livingstone. We are also told that Susi and Chuma were so loyal to David Livingstone that when he died at a location described as “the centre of Africa,” Susi and Chuma risked their own lives by carrying Livingstone’s embalmed body for months from modern day Zambia all the way to the coast of modern-day​ Tanzania so that the body could be shipped off to London for burial. Now, what if we dared to tell the stories of Susi and Chuma not just as servants but also as – to use that fancy term reserved for Europeans – ‘explorers?’ What if in our version of missionary history we also saw Africa through Susi and Chuma’s eyes? Would we not see that Ilala, the Zambian village where Livingstone died, is in fact not the center of Africa but simply a case in colonial cartography full of self-serving symbolism?

I wrote We Are All Blue because beneath the Grand Narratives of global history lie African stories waiting for you and me, Upright Africans in the world, to truthfully tell back into our Consciousness. With no apology. For our own humanity’s sake!

-Donald Molosi

Donald has recently published another book, Dear Upright African. His European book​ launch​ took place at the African Book Festival Berlin 2019. The African Book Festival aims to summon the finest in African and Afro-diasporic​ writing to Berlin. The event was curated by award-winning writer and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe. With Ben Okri, the festival’s headliner is another literary giant from Nigeria.
This year the event focused thematically on transitions, change, upheaval and future visions – in a literal as well as figurative sense: How do African writers interpret the issue of crossing borders and trespassing, physically but also stylistically. How are personal experiences and changes in location reflected in poetry? Which political upheavals are picked up on in fiction and how are they interpreted? In which ways can and do African thinkers influence current situations.

To book him as a speaker, consultant, linguist or trainer​, please contact​ us

Africa, we are the protector of the Gods

27 Feb


Most of our history dictates the journeys of men, with limited​​ documentation of the ​female-led​ warriors and heroine stories. The last decade we have seen a positive shift in the female narrative and as we are rightfully claiming our spaces in all aspects of life as we also need to hounor those who came before us. As my three passions in life are women, Africa, and the arts, I was really intrigued by​ this exciting project, “Protector of the Gods”.

“Protector of the Gods” is an afro-futuristic take on three of ancient Egypt’s most sought after queens Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. The story of each queen will be documented in each film respectively. This historical project will be directed by the creator, Kameko Tarnez.


Kameko Tarnez is an American world musician, soul singer, writer, director, and feature film, producer. He has collaborated with many icons such as Michael Jackson, Erykah Badu, Toni Braxton, Grace Jones, Rita Marley, Vanessa Williams and more. Kameko is also the owner of Archrok Entertainment, a full-fledged Artist Management / Production House. The company was formed by Kameko and a group of global investors interested in supporting the arts. They offer full start to finish production of television, film, commercials, music videos, photography, and music production.

I spoke to Kameko on his journey of writing and directing this epic trilogy.

You started the journey of writing this approximately six years ago, why was it so important to you?

I wrote “Protector of the Gods” because the stories of Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra have always resonated with me and I felt it was important to write about these historical women from an African perspective. 
Where did the idea come from?
I was raised by strong black women and I feel that Hollywood’s depiction of women of colour​, in general,  has been very limited. Therefore, I wanted to contribute to broadening the scope. I also felt it was important for moviegoers to see the rich culture of Africa, not just through the lens of slavery.  
Give us a break down of what to expect in each trilogy.
“Protector of the Gods” is an afro-futuristic sword and sorcery trilogy set in ancient Kemet. The trilogy follows the lives of 3 of the kingdom’s most powerful female pharaohs (Hatshepsut Vol. 1, Nefertiti Vol. 2, and Cleopatra Vol. 3) while they fight to preserve the royal bloodline, and protect the principles of the gods they praise.  
Where was it filmed and how long was the process?
We started filming Hatshepsut vol. 1 in 2018 in the U.S. and will continue filming Summer 2019 in S.A. 
Have you cast any African talent?
Yes, we have cast some African talent, and are now planning to do more castings in SA before we continue filming. I am proud ​to share that our mutual friend​ Thokozani Ndaba is part of the South African cast.

Can you reveal any big names attached to the project?
At this time, we are not revealing any of the A-list names that have attached themselves to the project. However, I can share that the actress Rhonda Ross (daughter to music icon Diana Ross and entertainment mogul Berry Gordy) is not only one of the film’s producers, but she will star in the film as Goddess Ma’at. In addition, the film will star the actress YahZarah as Goddess Sekhmet. She is best known for her work with Lenny Kravitz and collaborations with Erykah Badu.

As the writer and director, please share some of the dynamic moments that occurred whilst working o the project.
Since we are still filming, my memories are constantly growing. However, thus far, my most rewarding moment has been seeing the costume concept art presented by my creative collaborator Phillip Boutte Jr.  
When will it be released in cinemas?
The film will be released in Summer 2020. 
The executive producer of the production is Hill Harper and this is what he had to say:
“Protector of the Gods” is an epic and magical story that we have yet to see envisioned nor attempted by a Hollywood studio. I am honoured​ and excited to be co-executive producer of this amazing film and help bring it to audiences across the globe. I think it is essential that moviegoers understand and watch historically accurate depictions of African history, from more than simply a slave narrative. Now more than ever, audiences are hungry for stories such as these told without bias. I am excited to be a part of bringing it to millions around the world!

Breast cancer detection.

16 Oct

In my series dedicated to breast cancer awareness, I would like to focus on the importance of early detection.
In my previous blog on this topic, I honoured my late friend, Karissa Samuel, one of the the most important elements that she always spoke about was early detection. In my research on this topic, the age at which women should test their breast varies from different continents. In South Africa, its common to start from the age of 40, The American Cancer Society, for example, says they’re optional for women starting in their 20s. I simply say we can start as early as possible with the self examination. The sooner breast cancer gets diagnosed, the better your odds of getting a successful treatment for it are.
That’s why it’s important to have regular breast exams by your doctor, mammograms as recommended, and to check your breasts for any suspicious changes.
First and foremost, It’s a good idea to know how your breasts normally look and feel so you can notice any changes. This also starts with self love, looking and appreciating your body. Cherish its curves, lumps, contours and shapes. Spend time alone with yourself, naked in front of the mirror, identifying your unique shape and form and most importantly, love what you see and have.

How Should A Breast Self-Exam Be Performed?
1. In the shower:
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the centre, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

2. In front of the mirror;
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3. Lying down.
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
It may better to wait 3 to 5 days after your period ends to do your self-exam. That’s because hormonal changes before your period can cause a temporary thickening in your breast that goes away after your period.
If you’re still unsure, your doctor can go over the self-exam with you.

Most women don’t start having mammograms until they’re at least 40. If you’re at higher risk for breast cancer, your doctor may want you to start at a younger age.
A mammogram can show breast lumps up to 2 years before they can be felt. Different tests help determine if a lump may be cancer. Ones that aren’t cancerous tend to have different physical features than ones that are. Imaging tests such as mammograms and ultrasounds can often see the difference.


I have listed three spaces in Africa, that specialise in breast and gynaecological treatments.
The first is where I did my mammogram in 2015 with Dr. Nadia Jajbhay:

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1. The Women’s health and mammography institution, in Killarney, Johannesburg, South Africa. (WHMI)
WHMI is a breast care institute with a difference. Dedicated exclusively to breast cancer screening and diagnosis, patients can expect unrivalled professionalism and personal care.
WHMI radiologists are experienced in breast imaging, supported by a staff of experienced and committed mammographers all cutting-edge digital technology all under the supervision of a dedicated practice manager.
At WHMI we understand your need for privacy and optimum care under sensitive circumstances such as this. Whether you’re a mother or daughter, wife or sister, home executive or professional
Contact email address is: infodoc@whmi.co.za

2. In West Africa, in Nigeria there is the Reddington Hospital breast and gynaecology centre in Lagos.
“The Breast and Gynaecological centre provides a full range of high quality and personalised healthcare services ranging from women’s health, including a Gynaecology Clinic, a Breast Health Clinic to a Women’s Wellness Clinic.
“Located in the heart of Victoria Island, Lagos, the Centre offers services covering fibroid, infertility care, menopausal health, pelvic health, hysteroscopy, and simple office procedures. Reddington Hospital Group Medical Director, Dr Olutunde Lalude said in keeping with the Reddington’s tradition of being the front runner in medical breakthroughs in the country, the Breast and Gynaecological Centre boasts of cutting-edge technology never seen before in West Africa.
‘’They include a 3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography), a 3D Automatic Breast Ultrasound System (3D ABUS), a 3D Digital Breast Streotaxic Biopsy System (3D Stereo), a 3D MRI with 1.5 Tesla GE Explorer Technology.

3. In East Africa: The Mater Hospital, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Mater Hospital has installed mammography machines and the price of mammogram was reviewed to an affordable rate. So far mammography is the most reliable method for breast screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer .To allow the service to be accessible to all women, we now accept walk-ins for routine checkup on women above 40 years of age. Privacy of the patient is maintained by having only lady radiographers to perform the examination.

If you have more information on other regions or countries in Africa, please send through and I will gladly blog about them.